books about poverty
Despite tremendous progress over the past few decades in eradicating global poverty, nearly a fifth of the world still lives on less than $1.25 a day. In recent years, a number of economists, academics, and political analysts have published books providing insight into the causes, effects, and solutions to global poverty. Here are some top books about global poverty that particularly stand out:

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (2007)

By Paul Collier

“Economist and Africa expert Collier analyzes why a group of 50 nations, home to the poorest one billion people, are failing. Considering issues such as civil war, dependence on extractive industries, and bad governance, he argues that the strongest industrialized countries must enact a plan to help with international policies and standards.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Creating a World Without Poverty (2007)

By Muhammad Yunus

“As founder of Grameen Bank, Yunus pioneered microcredit, the innovative banking program that provides poor people mainly women with small loans they use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty. Now, in Creating a World Without Poverty, Yunus goes beyond microcredit to pioneer the idea of social business – a completely new way to use the creative vibrancy of business to tackle social problems from poverty and pollution to inadequate health care and lack of education.” – Yunus Centre

The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey into How the World’s Poorest People Are Educating Themselves (2009)

By James Tooley

The Beautiful Tree “tells the remarkable story of author James Tooley’s travels travels from Africa to Asia, and of the children, parents, teachers, and others who showed him how the poor are building their own schools and learning to save themselves.” –The Cato Institute

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (2006)

By Jeffrey Sachs

“Sachs outlines a detailed plan to help the poorest of the poor reach the first rung on the ladder of economic development. By increasing aid significantly to provide the basic infrastructure and human capital for markets to work effectively, Sachs argues such investment is not only economically sound but a moral imperative.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (2006)

By William Easterly

“Easterly, a celebrated economist, presents one side in what has become an ongoing debate with fellow star-economist Jeffrey Sachs about the role of international aid in global poverty. Easterly argues that existing aid strategies have not and will not reduce poverty, because they don’t seriously take into account feedback from those who need the aid and because they perpetuate western colonial tendencies.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1998)

By David Landes

“The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is David S. Landes’s acclaimed, best-selling exploration of one of the most contentious and hotly debated questions of our time: Why do some nations achieve economic success while others remain mired in poverty? The answer, as Landes definitively illustrates, is a complex interplay of cultural mores and historical circumstance.” – W.W. Norton & Company, Inc

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (2006)

By C.K Pralahad

“Explaining that the world’s five billion poor make up the the fastest growing market in the world, Prahalad shows how this segment has vast untapped buying power, and represents an enormous potential for companies who learn how to serve this market by providing the poor with that they need.” – Amazon

Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (2009)

By Paul Polak

“Polak, a psychiatrist, has applied a behavioral and anthropological approach to alleviating poverty, developed by studying people in their natural surroundings. He argues that there are three mythic solutions to poverty eradication: donations, national economic growth, and big businesses. Instead, he advocates helping the poor earn money through their own efforts of developing low-cost tools that are effective and profitable.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (2009)

By Dambisa Moyo

“Moyo, a Zambia-born economist, asserts that aid is not only ineffective—it’s harmful. Her argument packs a strong punch because she was born and raised in Africa. Moyo believes aid money promotes the corruption of governments and the dependence of citizens, and advocates that an investment approach will do more to help reduce poverty than aid ever could.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Flavor Wire, Muhammad Yunus, WW Norton, Amazon
Photo: Cheryl Ann Skolnicki

These are ten women transforming Africa through economic, literary, and technological spheres.

  • Chimamanda Adichie is a Nigerian writer transforming the next generation of African literature. Her critically acclaimed breakout novel, Purple Hibiscus, was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best first book, whilst her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the prestigious Orange Prize. Her latest book, released in May 2014, tackles the precarious issue of race in the post-9/11 world.
  • Dambisa Moyo is a Zambian economist best known for her acclaimed book Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working, which argues against the introduction of foreign aid in Africa. The book instead advocates for an African-based initiative for the continent’s future.
  • Saran Kaba Jones is a Liberian social entrepreneur and a powerful advocate for clean water. She formed FACE Africa, an organization that supports access to clean water, proper hygienic conditions, and sanitation facilities in Liberia.
  • Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is the founder of soleRebels, based in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, which sells fair-trade, locally-produced footwear. Its sales have introduced over $1 million dollars into the local economy.
  • Ndidi Nwuneli is the Nigerian founder of LEAP Africa, an organization that provides leadership training and coaching services to a variety of social entrepreneurs to provide them with the skills necessary for success.
  • Khanyi Ndhlomo is a South African woman reshaping the course of African media. Her company, Ndalo Media, runs two highly successful business and lifestyle publications: Destiny Magazine and Destiny Man.
  • Lisa Kropman established The Business Place, a collection of business centers that provide support to young entrepreneurs in Southern Africa.
  • Julie Gichuru serves as one of the leading journalists in Kenya, having done so for the past eleven years in a variety of mediums, including broadcast, print, and online media. She works presently as an executive at Citizen TV, Kenya.
  • June Arunga is the founder of Open Quest Media LLC, as well as a founding partner of Black Star Line SA, a technology-based company that facilitates cell-phone payments and money transfers. All of her ventures are focused on nurturing the African economy.
  • Ory Okolloh is a Kenyan lawyer and activist who created Ushahidi, a crowd sourcing system through which people from around the world can report violence as it unfolds through their cell phones, emails, or Twitter accounts. She is globally recognized as one of the prominent female leaders in technology.

– Anna Purcell

Sources: Forbes, The Guardian
Photo: University of Liege